Gary Ginsberg (Toxicologist) gives expert video advice on: What is 'carbon monoxide'?; Is carbon monoxide poisonous?; What are the sources of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home? and more...
What is 'carbon monoxide'?
Carbon monoxide is again, a colorless, odourless gas and it's highly toxic. Because what it's doing when you absorb it into your body, is it's competing with oxygen for haemoglobin. Haemoglobin runs through our blood and it carries oxygen to the brain, to the muscles, to the nerves. Carbon monoxide has oxygen on it, and sort of, to haemoglobin, looks a little bit like oxygen. The problem is that carbon monoxide has a much higher affinity for haemoglobin than oxygen does, so it displaces oxygen off of haemoglobin, and it robs your tissues of oxygen.
Is carbon monoxide poisonous?
Carbon Monoxide is an insidious killer. It came to light when a famous tennis star Vetas Gerulaitis suddenly died at the heart of his career in a Queens home when he was staying over night with some friends and he didn't wake up the next morning sleeping in the basement because the home didn't have a carbon monoxide detector and it had a furnace malfunction carbon monoxide backed up into the basement and he died in his sleep.
What are the sources of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home?
Any combustion appliance in your home can be a source of Carbon Monoxide, from your furnace, to a kerosene heater, to a car running in an attached garage. All these appliances will release some Carbon Monoxide. It's important that they all be vented to the outside.